Monday, July 28, 2014

week 33: life is good

Life has been good but I'm having a life experience comparable to something mentioned in Eragon. There is a part of the story where someone is explaining to Eragon that in the olden days they used to teach young dragon riders to use magic by giving them impossible tasks to accomplish. One that was mentioned was filling a bucket with water when it had no bottom. Now this is how it relates to me - I've been given the task of filling a cup which is already full. I'm not sure why it has been given to me, but I'm assuming that not only is it in effort to help me see that I can use magic, but at the same time discover the true name of the ancient language. It is fetching frustrating. If you need someone to explain what I'm saying ask Joe. Also, the full cup is Elder Ah Wong in case you did not want to infer that due to a lack of wanting to offend.
(In the Toolson household, we aren't sure if Elder McClellan is saying that his companion is so smart and spiritual that he feels like he has nothing to teach him, or if his companion thinks that he is so smart and spiritual that Elder McClellan is having a hard time teaching him!) 

Life was pretty darn standard this week. We tracted. We contacted. We chased people down and threw things at them. When we were in the township we saw this one dude get beat up. On the way to Sabie there were hookers stripping on the side of the road just tryin to earn a buck. If they are ever clothed when we pass I have determined I'm going to give them Law of Chastity pamphlets.  Pretty standard week here in Africa. 

We did have some major successes. We got a new family, we gained 3 new investigators (that's 3 more then the last 6 weeks haha), and we had 2 investigators at church! Woo! Success! I also found out two people I taught in my last area are being baptized, so I'm pretty dang happy about that! 

My current area is hard. In fact it is known throughout the mission as being the hardest area, and that it is dead. I'm refusing to accept that. I was reading in Doctrine & Covenants today this scripture from section 112: "And again, I say unto you, that whosoever ye shall send in my name, by the voice of your brethren, the Twelve, duly recommended and authorized by you, shall have power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation whithersoever ye shall send them-"

This reaffirmed for me the reality of the situation I'm in. Success in Nelspruit is very much possible because I have been given the power to open the door here. Now I'm just trying to figure out how to do it. Here is what I'm trying:
1) faithful, joyful obedience
2) hard work
3) working with less active members
4) strengthening the members
5) when in doubt, tract
6) working with the branch council

It would be mostly unrealistic for me to have a goal of 20 baptisms while I'm in this area. What I'm doing is attempting to lay the foundation of future success. At the end of my mission I want to be able to hear that Nelspruit is on fire. I've thought a lot about the question, what is success? Well, in my opinion it is continually putting one foot in front of the other in an effort to build up the kingdom. Yes it sucks to not have baptisms, in fact it sucks a lot. But I'm trying and I hope my efforts will one day be consecrated for the gain of the kingdom through an increase of membership. Everyone thinks, "hmm Africa? All you do is baptize." I used to think that, but it appears to not be so. Now the trick is to keep that in mind and not get disheartened on those days that every appointment drops or when no one comes to church. 

Life is good. The work is progressing. And better yet I believe that I'm growing.  

I've been reading a ton. At night we are getting back around 7 to the flat because tracting after dark here is mostly a very stupid idea. 

I hope all continues to go well. I have only 16 months left. Not a lot of time for the difference I hope to make. Some of my best friends went home last week and In a way I wish I never had to be in their shoes. Unfortunately everyone's time comes to an end; I'm trying to use mine the best I can.

Life is good, not much else to report.

Love, Elder McClellan

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

week 32

Wow those fires are crazy, see we need to do what Africa does. They burn everything on purpose so that nothing burns on accident. I feel quite sad for all the people have lost their homes, that's never a fun thing. Hopefully they will have died down a bit before next week!

So in my last letter I complain about how nothing happened. I shouldn't have done that because now everything happened. Let's start with Tuesday! We had a DA up in the boonies and on our way there we ran across a porcupine the size of the hood of the car. It's eyes were blood red and we nearly took a header into the ditch trying to avoid it. 

Thursday we had a DA even further in the boonies at the top of a mountain. Some how... our break lines were mystically destroyed and I had to drive down a mountain in complete darkness without breaks. It was terrifyingly fun. The next day we drove it to the dealership... that was also interesting. We finally got the car back today. A few weeks ago our car dun got robbed so we also had the locks replaced so that we can have somewhat of an assurance that our stuff is safe. The memories are priceless, but they cost the church R7500... haha... ouch. I will also say this - none of the damage was our fault. So yeah. 

Friday: We walked and walked and walked. I'm pretty sure I deserve the 50k merit badge from the scouting program. We walked up one mountain, down the other, across one and well yeah. It was hot. It was tiring. We taught no one. It was a long day that I never wish to experience again. I can tell I'm not very Christ-like because that act of obedience was done very grumpily. The mountains here are huge and it may be winter, but it is flipping hot. 

Here are some pictures from the week...

Saturday: We took this day a bit slower. It was hotter and we again had no appointments we could make it to. We decided to play mail man for a bit and walk a package across town at the request of a member. Woo service! After this we took lunch and I may or may not have eaten an entire pizza myself. I also received a call from President Dunn telling me that I would be training a new missionary. Woo? I think. 

Monday I had an early meeting in Joburg that was conducted by the APs and President. Basically the meeting was about not ruining the new missionaries. Hmmm. The next day was transfers. We managed to stay in the Sandton flat for the night. It was pretty dang awesome. It is the richest city south of the equator... so it was nice. Transfers were completely different then usual, President Dunn is changing up a lot of stuff and I really love it. The man is inspired and he is definitely inspiring the rest of the mission to do better. I am now training Elder Ah Wong from New Zealand. He is Samoan, white, and Chinese. So far so good, he is an awesome guy and we have already had a bit of fun. 

Hmm not sure what else to say. The church is still true, and life is awesome. Not sure I could be any happier.

Oh here is a thing. I've come to the conclusion that I'm now African American. At least more so then all those who claim to be, I mean all the people in the 'hood. African is more of a way of life then a color. So yeah, I'm now African American. I've also noticed I'm becoming more and more politically incorrect. I love the rest of the world, they just deal with things. Americans (ah hem democrats ah hem) gets too butt hurt about stuff. The only thing that stops me from staying here forever at this point is the lack of guns. Well and family of course. But mostly guns. Family can come here, so actually yep. Guns are the only reason I won't move back. 

Life is awesome, God be with you till be meet again.

Love, Elder Kelly McClellan

Monday, July 21, 2014

Well, I've been called to train a new missionary so I have no time to email today. I have to be in Johannesburg at 3 for a meeting. Will email later in the week.

Love, Elder McClellan

Monday, July 14, 2014

week 31

Life is still good, this week however did mostly uhm, well. It blew. It is school holidays yet again so everyone is out of town. Sometimes we will go tracting for 3 hours and only place 1 pass along card. Nelspruit is hard. Oh well, we should have a baptism next month! Woo!

Honesty nothing exciting happened this week like... at all. We had some service and 75% of our appointments ditched.

Our day today is going to be boring, oh well, I like prep days like that to be honest. Today I did 2 hours of personal study because my companion never showed up for study at all. Hmm, I could complain, but what's the point?

President Dunn is coming to visit us on Thursday to do interviews.

This week or next we will be implementing a new tactic. Dropping LAs (less active members) who are wasting our time. It usually makes them more serious.

Sorry for such a lame letter, nothing happened that's worth reporting.

Lately I've been reading a special edition of the Liahona on the temple. It is pretty darn powerful, you should find it and read it.

Spiritual thought, from Psalms 18:30 - "as for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him."

Love, Elder McClellan

Monday, July 7, 2014

week 30: God's Window, waterfalls and work

Alright, this week was sweet.... it may or may not have been because I only spent 3 days in the area haha.

The entire time I was in the North East Zone (Limpopo) I kept hearing about a place called God's Window, unfortunately it was just a bit too far to go to, but Monday that all changed! We had to go to Joburg Wednesday so we went for it. So we drove the hour and a half to God's Window and oh man... it is South Africa's Grand Canyon. It is amazing. It is basically a 1500 ft cliff looking out over the vast forests of Mpumalanga. Since I've been on mission I have kind of disregarded safety and fear so I decided to lay down on my belly and look strait down the cliff... It was all well and good until the wind dun near took me off. 

All in all it was an amazing day. After God's Window we trekked to 5 different water falls, all of which were astounding!

Later that night we went to Sabie to visit some members and had a Braii. It was a sweet day. 

One of the few days spent in area! We had a great day and pulled out a strong 5 lessons, quite hard to do in our area during school holidays! We had a huge shambock lesson with a less active brother named Elvis. His excuse for being less active and not doing what he should was because he was only in the church 3 years.... that ticked me off. We shambocked with love and he yet again promised to come to church. He did not. Hmmm reading this it sounds like we beat him verbally, please do not mistake how this was worded as a lack of ability and sensitivity in reaching out to  LAs. We reactivated 50% of our less active members in my last area. I do infact know how to do it. So yeah...

Well, on Monday our fearless leader President Omer was replaced by the new up and coming President Dunn. Wednesday our zone had a chance to meet with him. It consisted of first a 4 hour drive (during which we saw multiple heard of wild horses as we drove through the mountains!) Once we got to Gauteng we stopped by Santon. Now let me teach you a bit about Santon. It is the richest city south of the equator and as such it is infested by Americans and Brits. We stopped by Santon city mall and oh boy, it was like being a kid in a candy store. Literally at times actually... 

Let me step back and explain something to you right quick. I spent 6 1/2 months in what you call a township, basically a poor nasty area no white person in their right mind would want to go to. So, when you first get to the area everyone seems weird and the girls are uhm... to put it nicely... uhm... Not pretty? So imagine if you will going from a township to the richest city in the country which is inhabited with Americans and Brits. Now, imagine further, it is school holiday and every single woman in the city is at the mall. I know on a mission girls are a no go, but if they know you're American, the women flock. It is pretty funny. Anywho, now you understand why this trip to the mall was such an amazing occasion haha. Though it may have been slightly unfortunate... I may or may not have walked into a pole when I turned to look at an American girl who was speaking. Technically speaking I did nothing wrong so don't you judge me.

After we left the mall we went to meet President Dunn, he is flipping sweet. As one person put it he has the "greeny fire" and it appears as though he is going to begin cracking the whip fairly soon. Only time will tell.

I went to KaNeymazane on exchanges. The best part of the day was driving the Backie around. We did have 7 lessons, but I missed manual so much. It was nice. I did however almost roll down a bank. There is an area there called Penar and man it is sketchy. The roads are about 3 feet wide in places, made for a fun time!

We spent literally all day at the chapel draining the font. Hours and hours. It sucked. What we had to do was use a garden hose to drain it after creating a vacuum. Sometimes Africa is just too ghetto to be fun.

Anytime we have a lesson planned on Saturday or Sunday they drop, so we have turned these days into service days! First we went up to the McCarthy's and grabbed some machetes. Our task was to clear a perimeter around their property. After a few hours, lots of sweet, and a little blood we were finished! Next we went to the Mahule family (investigators), we mounted cabinets for them. After both of these service projects they both fed us. I nearly died from being stuffed.

Sacrament was powerful this week! The testimonies were sweet and I had the opportunity to confirm Shanella. 

This was hilarious, when the confirmation was about to start the branch president stopped us and called every Melchizedek priesthood holder in the branch to come up. There were about 10 of us. I guess he forgot the memo about large groups of brethren being encouraged to all help at once. Oh well. The day continued quite routine until we got to Elders Quorum. We basically practiced every ordinance. It was a special experience to see a book given a baby blessing and the branch president be ordained to the office of a deacon teacher then priest. Sometimes I just have to shake my head at the things that happen haha. Oh well, I'm not presiding. I did however take it upon myself to correct them when they said a teacher could ordain a deacon. lol... Africa...

That night we had a BBQ with 5 Americans, 1 South African, and a Malagasy. It was to celebrate all of our countries statehoods since all of our independence days were in the past few weeks. It was sweet.

Not much else to report, however as I read Psalms 18 this week it really hit me, so you should read that. It was good.

Elder McClellan

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

week 29

Well let's see here.  I'm not sure why, but starting is always the hardest part of these emails.

I guess let's start off with the highlight, we had a baptism! Shanella Chitsora was baptized yesterday by Elder Brackett and will be confirmed by me next week. It was another amazing experience, each baptism I've had thus far has been spectacular in its own way. This one was the circumstances under which it was performed. Our chapel is above a furniture store and funeral parlour. Its ghetto. Our font is basically a huge fibre glass tub. To fill it we have to hook a garden hose up to a normal tap in the kitchen of the "chapel", this means we have a garden hose with each end cut off running about the chapel while it's filling. It took about 5 hours to fill... Anyways, the baptism was flawless but due to a lack of bended knees it ended up a bit like a show at Sea World. Got me and the rest of the front row nice and wet! We are now however left with a problem. The font will not drain... so this upcoming Friday after district meeting we are going to use buckets to empty it, "how great is my calling" (Bruce R McConkie.)

The week went well but once the weekend hit all fell apart. We did not have a single lesson Saturday or Sunday. Not only did our Sunday lunch cancel, but so did Saturday and Sundays dinner. That's all right though, we managed to.... uhm... well actually we did not accomplish much of anything these days. Well, actually (yes it is again an actuality) Elder Brackett did manage to break the gate at the church when he flung it open as if he were a lumber jack. Due to my cleverness and the Leatherman in my pocket we were able to get it fixed in a jiffy. As the gate fell off of its track Brother Admire just looked at me and softly spoke "aye wena" ( I think that's what he said), I nearly fell over laughing.

On Wednesday we drove to Sabie again to have a lesson with the family out there. On the way there we drove through a forest fire, all the long while I was following a logging truck. As soon as the smoke cleared I was pulled over by a very grumpy traffic control officer. She claimed I was going 116 in a 100. There was literally no way, I was behind a logging truck in thick smoke. Anyways, I was polite and pulled the "I'm a pastor from America going to teach a family about Jesus" card. She went and consulted with her fellow officers and then bid me farewell failing to give me the 500 Rand ticket she had previously mentioned. However, before I left she did not fail to ask for the bribe she was originally seeking. It was freezing but she said "├»sh you know... its hot out here. On your way back why don't you bring us a few cokes?" I drove away after assuring her I would. We did not pass that point till 10ish that night sooo.... No coke for the crooked cops. Once we got to the home of the members we had a nice chat, ate dinner, shared a lesson that turned into a he said/ she said debate, and looked through some night vision goggles. Pretty sweet way to spend the evening if you ask me! The family we visited have the surname of Weitsz and I love them. They are some pretty awesome people.

The days here in Nelspruit are long and hard. Town is not nearly as productive as township, but we kinda take what we can get. This past week we did go on exchanges with the APs (assistants to the president) and as Elder Davis and I trackted we found 3 father-leds and set 6 return appointments. That's pretty dang impressive! That was sweet day. On Friday the ZLs (zone leaders) came up and went on splits with us and KaNyamazane. Elder Searil from Idaho joined us and we had a blast. We spent most of the time talking about irrigation, but before he left he did manage to lasso me. Literally, he took a lasso out of the boot (trunk)of his car and lassoed me. Pretty sweet day.

That's kind of the big updates for the week... today however is going to be amazing. A few months I spoke of a place called Gods Window. Well, we are going to visit today! From what I've seen it is the most beautiful place on earth, but I'm not sure yet. I'll send lots of pictures next week to show you. After we go to Gods Window and a few other places the Weitsz family is going to have a Braii (like a bar-b-q) for us and the KaNamazane Elders.

Yesterday I hit my 7 month mark. That's pretty crazy, mission is flying by and I'm not sure how I feel about it. The more time I spend here in RSA the less I want to leave. If it weren't for the terrible economy, the terrible race issues, lack of chastity, and over use of alcohol I would even consider raising a family here. It was funny the other night a member compared their president to Hitler. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but as beautiful as it is and as much as I love these people this country's problems run deep.

The sad news for the day is that this is president Omer's last day as president of the Johannesburg mission and President Dunn will be taking over. I have mixed feelings about it haha. Sad and happy. In his last letter to me he wrote:

"The assistants returned from their exchange with you very impressed by you as a missionary. I second their impressions. Thank you for your faithfulness. You will learn many things from this experience and others you will have. Learn the lessons well for you will draw upon them as life goes forward. Thanks for all you are doing. Please know of the love that Sister Omer and I have for you! President Omer"

I'm definitely going to miss that guy but hopefully I'll be able to attend our mission reunions in the next few years. 

Life is well and after a spiritually amazing week I'm more sure now then ever that this church is true.

I wish time was moving slower.

Love, Elder Kelly McClellan